GOP senators break with Trump over transgender troop ban

Multiple Republican senators broke with President Trump on Wednesday after he announced on Twitter that transgender troops would be banned from serving in the military.

In separate statements, GOP Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAfghanistan is our longest war ever and Congress has abandoned all responsibility Kremlin: ‘We have a long way to go’ before any breakthrough with US The GOP is Trump's party now MORE (Ariz.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Russia report | House lawmakers demand Zuckerberg testify | Senators unveil updated election cyber bill Omnibus includes search-and-seize provision New kid on the tech block MORE (Utah) all criticized Trump for his decision that Obama-era rules allowing transgender troops to serve would be reversed.

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, ripped the call and said that Trump shouldn't be making policy announcements via tweet.

“The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter," McCain wrote in his statement.

“The statement was unclear," he added. "The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving."


"There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity."

Hatch concurred, asking Trump for more "clarity" on the policy.

"I don't think we should be discriminating against anyone," Hatch wrote. "Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the policy the president tweeted today."

Speaking on CNN, Shelby was more apprehensive about directly contradicting the president, but praised current military policy allowing transgender troops as "a big tent for people who want to serve."



"That would be a reversal of the current policy," Shelby said on CNN. "The current policy is a big tent for people who want to serve. You've got to remember, our military force is a voluntary force. I'll have to see what he actually said, read his tweet and go from there from current policy."

"You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve," he said.

A spokeswoman for Ernst told The Des Moines Register that the Iowa Republican, who is a veteran, would oppose the ban.

“[Ernst] believes what is most important is making sure service members can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life,” spokeswoman Brook Hougesen wrote. “While she believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”

Trump announced the decision on Twitter Wednesday morning, saying that transgender individuals would be banned from serving in the U.S. military "in any capacity," in part due to the "tremendous medical costs" involved.